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PGConf.EU 2011 - the speakers and the presentations

This part of the feedback is almost turning into a repost year from year. But it's a good thing to be reposting if any, so I'm doing it anyway. To start with, just take a look at these graphs:

Those are pretty fantastic ratings. A full 84%25 rated the content quality as 4 or 5, and only 1%25 rated it as less than 3. That basically comes down to there being no talks of bad quality. This confirms the feeling that we had when we tried to pick out the talks for this year - the number of great submissions where just huge. We had to reject around half the talks submitted, and there were only a few of those that we rejected because we thought they weren't very good. Most were simply rejected because we didn't have the time and space to accept them all.

The ratings people have given our speakers confirm what we have always thought to be one of the reasons people like the conference - and many other PostgreSQL conferences as well: you get to listen to and talk to the people who really know what they are talking about. Often because they are the very people who wrote the software in question. A whole 96%25 of all the ratings gave our speakers a score of 4 or 5 for their knowledge of the topic. And nobody scored lower than 3. These truly are the experts you get to meet!

Most of our speakers also scored very high on the Speaker Quality metric. Our top speakers this year were:

Speaker Rating Vote count Standard deviation
Bruce Momjian 4.8 31 0.4
Ram Mohan 4.7 36 0.5
Selena Deckelmann 4.7 38 0.5
Magnus Hagander 4.6 52 0.6
Simon Riggs 4.6 43 0.6
Stephen Frost 4.6 18 0.5
Peter van Hardenberg 4.5 11 0.7
Gavin M. Roy 4.5 10 0.5
Greg Smith 4.5 68 0.7
Harald Armin Massa 4.4 10 0.5
Steve Singer 4.4 10 0.7
Gianni Ciolli 4.4 32 0.8
Dave Page 4.3 25 0.8
Heikki Linnakangas 4.3 12 0.9
Ed Boyajian 4.2 13 1.0
Marc Balmer 4.1 12 0.7
Dimitri Fontaine 4 11 0.8

This really is the reason why people come to the conference, and keep coming back the next year - our outstanding speakers! Thank you all for showing up this year to give your presentations, and we hope to see you again next year!

That concludes the posts I'm going to make about pgconf.eu feedback this year. Some of you have already asked about next year, and I'm not going to post any information about the feedback we got there - yet. We are reviewing the feedback we received, and are soon going to start looking for a good venue for next year. We have made the mistake before of announcing a location before we had a venue secured, and we're not going to do that again. We are going to announce it as soon as we know, but that will not be until we have actually decided on an exact venue. But we are absolutely planning to do it again next year, and sometime around the same time of the year. Exactly where we don't know yet...

PGConf.EU 2011 - the feedback is in

Almost exactly a week later than what we said, I have finally closed down the feedback system for PostgreSQL Conference Europe 2011. I think we all needed slightly more time than we expected to recover and catch up properly...

The detailed feedback for each speaker will be sent out during the day today, unless we run into any unforeseen technical issues, and I will try to summarize the conference-wide feedback here. If any particular note that you posted is not referred here, don't worry - we read them all, but there are far too many of them to post here.

Starting with the conference organization itself and it's venue, I'm really happy to see that we have managed to deliver something that the majority of our attendees really like:

Not a single vote less than 4, on a scale of 1-5, for the overall impression. And only one below 4 for the programme. I can only say a huge thanks to the big group of volunteers who ran this conference, and made it what it was. Clearly you did a good job!

Continue reading

pgconf.eu schedule & keynote announced

A little bit later than we hoped, we have now finally published the schedule for pgconf.eu. Three days full of presentations to choose from - and of course also the always popular lightning talk sessions. The schedule listed now is what we consider the final version, but we obviously reserve the right to make last-minute modifications both to which talks are included and exactly when they are scheduled, if necessary.

Keynote speaker We are also happy to announce that the conference keynote will be presented by by Ram Mohan, CTO of Afilias, who will be talking about how Afailias has built their company on open source solutions, and how this has turned into a great success. Afilias as a company has been deeply involved with PostgreSQL for a long time, including employing former Core Team member Jan Wieck and leading the development of the Slony replication system.

pgconf.eu training announced, call for papers deadline extended

Training

We are happy to announce that our training schedule is now available at http://2011.pgconf.eu/training/. These trainings are full or half day sessions on the day before the regular conference sessions, and come at an extra cost. The available trainings are:

  • Performance From Start to Crash by Greg Smith, 2ndQuadrant
  • Mastering PostgreSQL Administration by Bruce Momjian, EnterpriseDB
  • Building business applications for Cloud with Servoy by Robert Ivens, ROCLASI
  • Slony, a still useful replication tool by Guillaume Lelarge, Dalibo

Seats are limited at these trainings, so we advise you to book as soon as possible. Training is booked as additional options on the standard conference registration form.

Call for papers

Since we are still in vacation period for a lot of people, we have decided to extend the deadline for our call for papers. The new deadline for submitting talks is midnight, Sep 2nd.

We will, however, start approving talks that have already been submitted as soon as possible, and announce them as soon as we have decided. That means that if you want to be sure that we will have time to review your talk, you should submit as soon as possible!

Full call for paper details are available on the site.

Get your talks in for pgconf.eu 2011

The call for papers for PGConf.EU 2011 in Amsterdam will close at the end of this week. Now is the time to get your talk submissions in!

We are interested in all kinds of talks - from deep technical ones, to novice oriented advise and case studies of interesting things done with PostgreSQL. We expect a wide range of different skillsets amongst our visitors, so we want a good spread of the talk topics as well!

Of course, all speakers get free entrance to the conference on all days (training sessions not included).

If you have any questions for us, don't hesitate to contact us.

So, there is nothing to wait for. Head over to the call for papers site and submit your ideas! And please help us spread the word to potential speakers in other communities as well, who may not have seen our posts yet!

PGConf.EU open for registration!

PostgreSQL Conference Europe is now accepting registrations for conference attendance.

The Early Bird special price will be available until September 5th, but that's no reason not to get your registration in early! Should you for some reason want to register for just a part of the conference, single day rates are also available at this time.

If you are planning to attend one of our training sessions, the schedule has not yet been published for that, and it is therefor not yet possible to register for trainings. However, do not worry: the early bird rate will be available for all attendees who register for the trainings - all the way until right before the conference.

And don't forget - the call for papers is still open! If you have already submitted a talk, or are planning to submit one, we suggest you wait to register until you have received a confirmation on if the talk was accepted or not. The early bird rate will be available long enough for you to register after you have received this notification - and if your talk is accepted, attendance is of course free!

As usual, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.

Call for papers - PGConf.EU 2011

PostgreSQL Conference Europe 2011 will be held on Ocober 18-21 in the Casa 400 Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It will cover topics for PostgreSQL users, developers and contributors, as well as decision and policy makers. For more information about the conference, please see the website at http://2011.pgconf.eu/.

We are now accepting proposals for talks. Please note that we are looking for talks in English, Dutch, German and French.

Each session will last 45 minutes, and may be on any topic related to PostgreSQL. Suggested topic areas include:

  • Developing applications for PostgreSQL
  • Administering large scale PostgreSQL installations
  • Case studies and/or success stories of PostgreSQL deployments
  • PostgreSQL tools and utilities
  • PostgreSQL hacking
  • Community & user groups
  • Tuning the server
  • Migrating from other systems
  • Scaling/replication
  • Benchmarking & hardware
  • PostgreSQL related products

Of course, we're happy to receive proposals for talks on other PostgreSQL related topics as well.

We also have a limited number of longer, 90-minute, slots available. Please indicate clearly in your submission if you wish to make a 90-minute talk.

Finally, there will be a session of five minute lightning talks. A separate call for proposals will be made for them further on.

The submission deadline is August 21st, 2011. Selected speakers will be notified before Sep 5th, 2011.

Please submit your proposals by going to http://2011.pgconf.eu/callforpapers and following the instructions.

If your proposal is in a non-english language, please include a single-sentence description of the presentation in English as well in the field for submission notes.

The proposals will be considered by committee who will produce a schedule to be published nearer the conference date. If your proposal has been accepted, you will be informed by email within two weeks of the submission deadline.

This call for papers is also available on the web at http://2011.pgconf.eu/callforpapers

We look forward to hearing from you, and seeing you in Amsterdam in October!

PGConf.EU 2011 will be held in Amsterdam in October

It's time to mark your calendars: PostgreSQL Conference Europe 2011 (formerly known as PGDay.EU) will be held on October 18-21 at the Casa400 Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Like last year, the conference will be held in a hotel venue, combining both the conference rooms and guest rooms, so you don't have to waste any time finding your way around the city. As in previous years, the conference will include full catered coffee breaks and lunches, to make the most of the time. The first day of the conference will be a training day, and the following three days will be regular conference tracks. The conference will accept talks in English, Dutch, German and French, to benefit those attendees who prefer talks in their native language.

We are just starting our search for sponsors - if you are interested in sponsoring the conference, or know someone who is, please take a look at our sponsorship opportunities and don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like to propose an alternative arrangement.

We will also follow up with a call for papers later, and in due course open for registration and post a conference schedule. For now, mark the dates, and follow the news on our website and on our twitter stream @pgconfeu.

Training at the increasingly misnamed PgEast

Next week it's time for PgEast: 2011, this time in New York City.

I've already outlined why the East part of "PostgreSQL Conference East" (as it was called at the time) is incorrect: as is obvious to anybody with a basic knowledge of geography, the conference is to the west. From what I can tell, it's approximately 74 degrees west of zero, which means it's more than 20%25 of the world to the west.

In expanding this scope, it seems JD has this year decided to get the rest of the name wrong as well, in a bid to get more people. Just like it's 20%25 of the world wrong in location, it's no longer a PostgreSQL conference. Instead it's more of a cross-database conference, with an entire track dedicated to MongoDB (incidentally, approximately 20%25 of the tracks, it seems). Is that bad? Absolutely not - I'm looking forward to sneaking in on one or two of those MongoDB talks. But I think it means we have to go back to the proper name for the conference - JDCon-East!

And I'm sorry JD, but whatever numbers you get, you will not be the biggest PostgreSQL conference around. We are going to have to leave that title where it belongs - with the Brazilians (for now).

This year, the conference is also running a full 7 parallel training sessions the day before the actual conference. As part of this, I'm giving a half-day training on Streaming Replication and Hot Standby. If you haven't registered for it already, there are still seats open! And tell your friends - since this is how my trip there gets funded, I'd really like to get a full session...

I will also be giving a talk during the regular conference, Data Driven Cache Invalidation.

There's plenty of PostgreSQL - and MongoDB - around for everybody at this conference, so if you're anywhere nearby New York City, there is no reason not to be there!

Feedback from PGDay.EU the final part - the venue and registration

The big change for PGDay.EU this year really was the switch from a university venue (first Monash University in Prato, then ParisTech in Paris) to a hotel venue (The Millennium Hotel in Stuttgart). We believe that much of the rest of the conference was an improvement over previous years - but it was an incremental improvement, whereas the change of venue was rather drastic. Looking at the feedback on this, I think we can conclude that this change was in general a positive one:

We're seeing a total of 75%25 who rate the venue as a 4 or a 5. Looking at the freetext comments, a large majority of them are very positive, but there are a few ones that stand out:

  • Several people mentioned it was bad that the two sets of rooms (Berlin vs non-Berlin rooms) were very far apart. This is definitely something that we noted, and will attempt to avoid next year.
  • A few people mentioned that it would be nice if the hotel was closer to the city center. This is definitely true - unfortunately, closer to the city center means higher prices. We hope to find something closer to a city center at a reasonable price next year - by making sure we start to look and book early enough.
  • A few people commented that we shouldn't hold this in northern/central Europe in December due to weather (snow anyone?). Our goal is to move the conference back to an earlier date during the autumn - again, the main reason we ended up in December this year was that we started looking for a venue too late.
  • A couple of people commented that the hotel room rates were too high at the Millennium. There were cheaper hotels around to use - but of course, those aren't as convenient. This wasn't helped by the fact that the hotel group rate dropped off the hotel website twice, causing some people to get their reservations at a higher rate.
  • Isolated people commented that they did not like the hotel - "too big, unpersonal" and "feels like a prison".

Amongst the positive ones we find a large number of comments saying that the "integrated venue" or "all inclusive" venue was a great step up.

Closely related to the venue, is the food. Unlike the big north American conferences PGCon and PG-East/West, we have for the past two years tried to provide proper lunches and not just sandwiches/boxed lunches. This obviously costs more money, but we believe it's worth it, and we think our visitors do. Last year we had a catering firm bring us assorted food, mainly cold cuts, at the conference venue, and this year we got proper lunch buffets (including multiple choices for dessert, of course..) at one of the hotel restaurants. I think the ratings speak for themselves - I would encourage those other conferences to look into improving their lunches as well!

A full 82%25 rated the food as 4 or 5. In the end, the cost for paying for a lunch "on ones own bill" would probably have cost more than half the conference fee - so we think we managed to provide some very good value. In fact, several people rated the food as being the best part of the conference(!)

There was, however, one person who said the food was one of the worst things about the conference - if you recognize that was you, we would very much like to know exactly why (no details were included) - please send me an email or write a comment here!

A few people commented on the large amount of food left over from lunch on at least one of the days - it is up to the hotel to decide what to do about that, but it is our belief that they do something "reasonable" with it - and not just throw it away. We know that the caterers last year delivered all leftovers to a nearby homeless shelter, for example. For next year, we will attempt to again get a specification from the catering/restaurant as to what happens to leftovers.

We feel that the overwhelming majority of our visitors found the changes an improvement, and we will therefor pursue something similar as our primary option for next year. We are always interested in improving further, of course, so if you have any other ideas - let us know! The final question we asked about the venue was where to hold the conference next year. Many were quite ambiguous in their suggestions ("big city in Europe" is in, "Hawaii" is out because we want to stick to Europe). Summarizing what we could gave us the following:

  • Obviously, we see a bias towards Germany - since we were in Germany this time. However, we are only going back to Germany next year as a last resort - we want to move around. We will eventually come back to Germany of course - but not next year.
  • Some people commented that they will not be able to attend in a country other than Germany because they wouldn't understand the language of the talks. To deal with this, we are considering adding non-local-or-english talks as well for next year independent of where it is - where German talks (along with French and maybe Spanish) would be included even if the conference isn't in Germany.
  • Our Germany community is also looking into creating a specific PGDay Germany next year, which will be a smaller event focused on the local market - something we as PostgreSQL Europe will help and encourage.
  • I'm surprised to find Stockholm so high up on the list - I promise I didn't put any of those votes in there myself!
  • It's good to note that all the cities having 2 or more suggestions were already on our list of places to look at for next year.
  • We will consider this input and start looking for venues. This time we will not attempt to decide and announce a city first and find a venue later, we'll do it in the other order.

The final part of our evaluation was considering the conference website and registration:

In general these are very good rates. I'm happy to see that more than 50%25 rate the website overall experience as 4 or 5 - that's a much better rating than it's being given by the people who edit the content on it! Same for registration, with very few people rating it really low. There's clearly some room for improvement though:

  • A few people commented they wanted non-paypal registration options. While the paypal system we use actually allow you to do a credit card payment without the need to sign up for paypal (which some people did not realize and thus sent us an email before registering asking about it), not everybody has a credit card (this is not America - or Sweden). We'd be very happy to hear suggestions for what to do here though - we've looked at many different options, and paypal turned out to be by far the best one. We need something that supports automation and is reasonably fast. We did also support bank transfer in extraordinary cases - but that's not something that can be automated (unless you are a much bigger customer to the bank than we are), and it takes a long time for some payments, since they have to cross borders. So - any suggestions are welcome, and our core registration system is designed to support multiple payment methods.
  • Nobody actually wrote in the conference feedback that we lack a good interface for bulk registration, but we are aware of this - we had a few (less than 10 in total) entities wanting to register more than 2-3 persons at the same time for a single invoice, and our current system does not provide a reasonable way of dealing with this. This is definitely something we need to work on for next year.
  • It's been suggested we add a "skill level" entry to each talk, to make it easier for an attendee to know if it's a beginner or advanced talk. This is definitely something we'll look at doing for next year.
  • One suggestion is we include a full list of all attendees including their email address in the conference handouts, to make it easier to contact each other. This is not something we're going to do as a general thing, since we don't want to go distributing such lists. But we may consider adding it as an opt-in feature, where you can choose on registration if you want to be included in such a list.
  • Several people suggested adding videos of the talks - either as realtime streaming or as downloadables. We're not likely to add a real-time streaming, but we are considering doing talk recording. It does add a fairly large amount of work though, so we'll be needing more volunteers to cope with it...
  • We need to make it more clear that 5 is the best and 1 is the worst on the feedback forms. We know a few people filled them in wrong (we hope it meant they gave us bad rates when they meant good, but we don't know that), and it was also mentioned in the feedback.

In summary, here are some reasons in graphical and textual forms why you should already put attendance to next years PostgreSQL Conference Europe in your budget:

Freetext comments: "The overall organization of that event was excellent." "Very good organization, great people, interesting talks, vibrant community in general. Lots of core dev presents, high level of knowledge." "Great organization from beginning (registration at the website, information prior to the event), arriving and registering (internet access already available, great t-shirt and backpack) to the conference itself (sessions, warning speakers about how much time is left), good food and drinks at the breaks and at lunch. Kudos to the organizers and everyone who helped make this happen." "I think the organisation was perfect. There where many people and all know where they had to go to." "The huge amount of information, inspiration and positive energy. Actually I hacked my first patch on the way back." "The people especially the staff :) Both keynotes were stimulating good dsicussions with my peers" "Very good conference. I felt really cosy there. As a noob to PG, I got a lot of information and I lost the fear of asking the experts (either on the mailing list or on IRC)." "The organization was really great. Maybe the best PostgreSQL conference I've attended so far."

That concludes my summaries of the feedback from this years PGDay.EU conference. If your specific comments haven't been called out here, don't worry - we still read them all and will consider them all for next year!

Finally, thanks again to all who helped make this conference great!

See you again next year!

Conferences

I speak at and organize conferences around Open Source in general and PostgreSQL in particular.

Upcoming

FOSDEM+PGDay 2019
Feb 1-3, 2019
Brussels, Belgium
Nordic PGDay 2019
Mar 19, 2019
Copenhagen, Denmark

Past

PGConf.Asia 2018
Dec 10-12, 2018
Tokyo, Japan
DC PostgreSQL Users Group
Nov 14, 2018
Washington DC, USA
New York City PostgreSQL User Group
Nov 13, 2018
New York City, NY, USA
Driving IT 2018
Nov 2, 2018
Copenhagen, Denmark
PGConf.EU 2018
Oct 23-26, 2018
Lisbon, Portugal
More past conferences